August 29; Instead of Parliamentary envoys appointed by Prime Minister to ‘highlight Indian brutalities in Indian-occupied Kashmir and to lobby for the Kashmir cause’ in 10 countries of the world, the President, Government and MLAs of Azad Jammu and Kashmir should be carrying out lobbying.
PILDAT has maintained that it makes little sense that Pakistani MPs go as envoys to ‘lobby for the Kashmir cause’ while the new Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir has been sworn in since July 2016. With the appointment of Mr. Masood Khan as President of AJK, who has had a long and distinguished diplomatic career, it is only logical and much more effective that the new President, Government and MLAs of AJK highlight and lobby for the ‘Kashmir cause.’ Utilizing Pakistani MPs for this purpose may weaken and not strengthen Pakistan’s position.
PILDAT believes said that there is also little justification behind Prime Minister’s nomination of 20 Parliamentarians as special envoys when there exists a Special Committee on Kashmir. The National Assembly’s Special Committee on Kashmir, that was first constituted in 1990, has been reconstituted with the term of every National Assembly since. The current Special Committee on Kashmir, formed in 2013, has representation of 8 major political parties of Pakistan and is supported by a 20-member secretariat in the National Assembly. Chairman of the Committee, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, MNA, is granted the status of a Federal Minister. The stated objectives of the Kashmir Committee include ‘monitor human rights violations and atrocities being committed by the Indian Forces in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir’ and ‘increase awareness within, as well as, outside the country about the Kashmir issue.’ The objectives of the Kashmir Committee also include ‘mobilizing World opinion in support of the cause of right of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as, the principle stand of Pakistan.’
With 3 meetings to its credit and resolutions condemning Indian atrocities since the new wave of terror hit Indian occupied Kashmir, the Kashmir Committee may have little to claim in terms of dynamism and effectiveness. However, the logical solution is to reinvigorate an existing institution instead of creating another one with a hefty bill to foot for. It seems to be an unfortunate norm that the Government creates new commissions, committees and institutions every time a crisis-like situation erupts while there already exist institutions dedicated to the same cause.
While Parliamentary envoys may not be the best way forward, the composition of the announced MPs reflects another interesting angle. 16 of the 20 envoys appointed by the Premier belong to the PMLN, 2 from allied parties including JUI-F and PML-Z and only two remaining envoys come from PPP and PML-Q. PTI, the second largest party in the country based on the votes polled in 2013 election, is totally absent from the list of envoys. Provinces too have not been equitably represented in the list of envoys. All except two envoys come from Punjab and only one envoy comes from KP and Sindh each. Balochistan could not manage even a single berth among the group of special envoys. Incidentally Balochistan is also not represented in the multi-party Special Committee on Kashmir.